Rugby: All Blacks hoping for better performance
New Zealand earned a late 20-15 win in the first Test against England at Eden Park last week, though they were far from their best in an error-ridden performance on home soil.
The All Blacks’ 20-year winning run at Eden Park was in danger until Conrad Smith crossed over for a try two minutes from time.
Coach Steve Hansen is well aware his team must improve if they are to beat England in the second Test at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
“If you turn around and say ‘so and so shouldn’t start because he played poorly’ we wouldn’t have anyone on the park,” Hansen said with a wry smile. “That’s how bad the performance was.
“We know some of the reasons why we played poorly and one of them was a lack of preparation time so there’s no point recreating that whole thing again putting new faces in.
“It’s about us working hard on our skill-sets and understanding how we want to play and them going out and delivering that.
“As a coaching group and playing group we’ve got faith in what we’re trying to do it’s just a matter of getting it right on the night.”
Both coaches have made changes for the second Test, with Julian Savea overcoming a knee injury to return for the All Blacks as Israel Dagg was ruled out with a patella tendon problem.
Ben Smith will also make a rare start at fullback, while Cory Jane is set to switch from the left wing to the right.
Meanwhile, England coach Stuart Lancaster has decided to play Manu Tuilagi on the right wing, having occupied a central position previously.
Lancaster is also able to call upon Danny Care, Owen Farrell, Billy Twelvetrees, Luther Burrell and Tom Wood, who all missed the series opener in Auckland.
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